No. 14 Kansas Moves to Finals in Maui after 72-56 Win Over UCLA
LAHAINA, Hawaii – The Kansas Jayhawks were able to withstand a second half UCLA surge to defeat the Bruins 72-65 Tuesday night in the semifinals of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. The Jayhawks move on to play No. 6 Duke in the tournament finals Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. (CT).
The win pushes the Jayhawks to 3-1 on the season, while UCLA falls to 1-3.
Junior guard Elijah Johnson had a career night, leading all scorers with 23 points off of 8-of-13 shooting. This marked a career-high for the Las Vegas native, who tallied four rebounds, tying a career-high and added two steals to pace the Jayhawks.
Senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor added to KU’s back court play by chipping in 13 points of his own, as well as contributing six assists. Junior Thomas Robinson was once again a formidable presence in the post, collecting his fourth-straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The first half was nothing short of dominant for Kansas. The Jayhawks came out of the gates on fire, starting the contest on a 12-2 run within the first four minutes and eventually pushing their lead to 19, 43-24, with 1:06 remaining. KU shot a scorching 50 percent from the field including a 55.6 percent clip from behind the arc in the opening period.
Johnson was the first half star for Kansas, shooting 4-of-7 from the field, including a 3-for-4 mark from three-point range. Junior Jeff Withey and Robinson were the Jayhawk’s dominant force in the paint in the opening half, combining for 13 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and a block.
The KU defense also held the Bruins to just 27.3 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes and didn’t allow a UCLA field goal until 13:38 remaining in the opening frame. The defensive effort helped the Jayhawks power their way to 17-point lead at the break, 43-26.
Just four minutes into the second half the Bruins caught fire, going on a 21-9 run in just eight minutes, cutting their deficit to 57-52 on a Jerime Anderson three-pointer with eight minutes to play. Both teams would trade baskets over the next suspenseful minutes with the KU lead never getting more than seven points.
The Bruins once again cut the game to five points with 4:33 left on the clock, 61-56, however the Jayhawks would end the game on 12-0 run, erasing any doubt of the final outcome.
The Kansas defense held the Bruins to 36 percent shooting from the field and forced 14 turnover, seven of them being steals. The offense had a hot shooting night, boasting a 51.1 percent shooting from the field and getting three players in double figures. The Jayhawks owned the battle of the boards, outrebounding UCLA 34-21.
Kansas will now move on to play Duke in the finals of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. Tip is set for 9 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on ESPN. Duke leads the series with Kansas, 6-2, with the last meeting on March 27, 2003, a 69-65 Kansas win in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
- KU Media Relations -